There was a little bit of a choice for games on Tuesday evening although some were a little hard to find than others. One criticism of the Southern Combination website is trying to find when cup games are being played, if it’s FA Cup or FA Vase it doesn’t seem a problem and with not every club prolific on social media, I’m sure there are a few fans lost, vital revenue for this season.
In the end there were about four or five choices and I plumped for the reversed fixture of Pagham and Broadbridge Heath, Heath’s home ground suffering a few issues with the travelling community.
The Lions began the season on Saturday with a 4-0 home defeat to Little Common, a surprising one for me as I tipped Kerry Hardwell’s team to do pretty well again this year given their squad contains a lot of players with experience of what is now the Pitching In Isthmian League.
The visitors meanwhile missed out on opening their campaign on Saturday after a heavy downpour put paid to the game at Hassocks, in contrast to the bright sunshine I was experiencing at Arundel on the opposite side of Sussex.
It was Heath who started the game in strong fashion as the Lions struggled to get onto the ball, and the visitors took the lead in just the fourth minute. Full back Cameron Watts’ delicious through ball sent Charlie Parmiter away through the middle of the Pagham defence and he slotted home past Connor Kelly.
With Pagham trying to play a high line throughout the first half, there were opportunities for Parmiter and Jamie Taylor to try and exploit as the Lions midfield pair of Joe Clarke and Ross Edwards found it hard to match their opposing counterparts.
Heath were only in front for 12 minutes, Pagham growing into the game and finding Callum Chalmers with acres of space on the right wing time after the time the goal was due to come, but from the opposite flank.
With Darren Currie on the phone in one ear, concentrating on the action was a little bit more difficult! Jack Langford was the scorer of the Lions equaliser as the home side grew into the game, Edwards and Clarke now beginning to get the measure of their opponents.
Both Langford and Chalmers were the out ball for the home side, both hugging their respective touchline and willing runners at the Heath backline and six minutes before the break Langford had his and Pagham’s second, a cross into the box from right to left found the winger and he smashed the ball home to put the Lions into a half time lead, although Heath will feel they had enough chances to be level or leading.
The second half was a very entertaining affair, Heath having switched Watts, who was the standout player for the visitors in the first half, into a more central role but didn’t quite deliver as well as he did in the first 45.
Heath certainly nullified the ball out to Chalmers and it was looking more likely that if the Lions were to score again it was going to come from Langford, either by creation or a shot on goal.
But, neither side were able to test each other’s keeper sufficiently and as we entered the final ten minutes when legs were beginning to tire Heath began to crank up the pressure.
Substitute Ben Cooksley had a glorious chance to equalise from a Jamie Taylor flick, but the angle took him wide and shot into the side netting. Moments later Taylor was in front of goal but volleyed wide after a great cross from the left hand side and you sensed it wasn’t going to be the visitors night.
Heath did have the ball in the net in stoppage time but was ruled out for offside and Hardwell’s men held on for their first win of the new season. Both sides now head into FA Cup action this coming weekend, facing fellow Southern Combination Premier Division sides in Littlehampton Town and Steyning Town.
Great to see Langford back out on the pitch with two well taken goals, and as Hardwell stated after Saturday’s defeat the lack of being able to get players on the pitch in pre-season due to the ‘ping’ etc you could see that across the game players needed a breather.
Heath will be wondering how they didn’t get anything from the game considering the amount of chances they created throughout but not enough hit the target and of course that is the difference, but it’s only 1-2 games into a 38 game season for both and plenty more opportunity to get points on the board.